Fort Bragg, one of the largest military installations in the United States, recently completed its inaugural Additive Manufacturing (AM) course. The course, conducted in partnership with Fayetteville Technical Community College (FTCC), aims to teach Soldiers the art of 3D printing to enable rapid prototyping, improve logistics, and improve readiness in the field.
Crash course in AM
In the training program, 12 Soldiers from various units participated in an intensive 80-hour course designed to impart both theoretical and practical knowledge. Participants learned about the intricacies of additive manufacturing technologies such as stereolithography (SLA), fused deposition modeling (FDM), and selective laser sintering (SLS). The course also covered topics such as material selection, design for AM, and post-processing techniques.
The AM course aligns with the Army’s modernization strategy and the vision of the Army Futures Command to integrate innovative technologies into military operations. Additive manufacturing has immense potential to revolutionize the military landscape, including producing parts on demand, reducing lead times, and lessening reliance on traditional supply chains.
This initiative empowers soldiers to master AM techniques, which can be critical during missions where access to traditional manufacturing and supply chains is limited. In addition to improving operational efficiency, the training also provides Soldiers with valuable skills that they can use in their civilian careers after leaving the service.
The course ended with a capstone project, with a soldier building a master handcuff key that could be hidden inside a bootlace.
“Some reports show that during World War II there were as many as 130,000 prisoners of war,” said Maj. Wiggins, innovation officer for the 18th Field Artillery Brigade.
“I was thinking about our future soldiers who might find themselves in an environment like that, and I wanted to give them an escape option so they can keep fighting, go home, and be with their families again.”
The success of the inaugural course has prompted expansion plans, with additional courses and a larger number of participants in the future. The Army continues to invest in cutting-edge technology and training programs, ensuring that soldiers are well-equipped to meet the challenges of modern warfare.
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